Sunday, September 9, 2012

Safe In My Own Skin

On a hot summer late afternoon a couple of weeks ago I grabbed my dog and headed down the road for a walk.
Evenings are already beginning to cool down a lot but most days are still very warm.   Fall is fast approaching.
I have photographed this sign a couple of times and it always amuses me.
It is located at the bottom of a hill on our road and can be found at the entrance to a small ranch.
In fact the place is called "Almosta Ranch".
Summer is almost gone.  Fall is fast approaching.
We have been here in Cody for three months now. 
Life is quiet but unsettled.  I am quiet but unsettled.
Still wandering through each day pretending................
There are two noisy sand cranes that live in the pasture on the opposite side of the road from the Almosta Ranch.
Although there were many deer that rested and grazed in this pasture last summer we rarely saw them this year.  The first time I saw the sand cranes this summer I was pleased, because the sight of them suddenly became a source of unexpected consistency for me   I had seen them last summer and they were here again this summer.  It was something to grab a hold of. 
When there is not much to grab onto you reach for whatever you can find I suppose.
They never seem to get close enough to the road for me to be able to take a decent picture of them, and I suppose that they are mates.
I hear them from the house - can tell by their sounds when they have flown to different pastures belonging to other ranches in the vicinity - but they somehow always seem to gravitate back to this place................
These two sweet and curious horses are owned by a nice but somewhat strange lady that I have met and spoken with a few times.
With her gravely voice and rough demeanour I am never quite certain how to take her, but our conversations have always been pleasant enough.
I gravitate more towards animals than I do people, only half pay attention (and fully feign interest) when I hear the local gossip about different people who live on our street that our elderly neighbor lady relishes in sharing with us.
She is dialed in to everyone's affairs and enthusiastically shares what she knows.
Which means that LC and I share very little with her beyond the superficial.  We are a friendly enigma to our neighbor and we like it that way.
Gravely-voice-woman's two sweet and curious horses..............
Last year it did not exist but this year there is a dog park at Beck Lake.
Made up of three very large fenced in areas, it is a safe place to allow Jamie to wander unencumbered by constraining leashes and guiding humans.
Usually she walks the perimeter of the park as she did at our house in Tennessee and then she returns to join us sitting under a tree.
It is only when other and younger dogs are at the park that we remember that our sweet Jamie is getting pretty old.
As I write this she is napping on the bed beside LC but she often sleeps beside me on the couch when I am working on the computer.
This picture was taken at Beck Lake Dog Park, and in a space alongside the far end of the fence the city has set up is Fire Hydrant Forest................
A small private plane coming in for a landing at the Yellowstone Airport located across the four lane highway.....................
A picture of our neighbor standing alongside her horse, taken in back of the house a couple of weeks ago.
This woman takes care of the horses that live on the property during the winter and she is an old cowgirl from way back.
Dixie the horse was very pregnant when we first met her last April and she eventually gave birth to a very sweet little foal.
Although I had seen the birth of a number of different kinds of animals before, that day (only a few weeks after we initially moved into the house that we are again renting) was the first time I had witnessed the birth of a horse.
As always I took pictures:
A month or so after our arrival back in Wyoming LC, Chris (our neighbor), Jamie and I all went out to the Southfork to check on some of the horses that were out there for summer pasture.
This picture was taken looking west towards both the mountains and Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
It is a place located only about 10 minutes drive from the center of Cody.
When they heard Chris' voice calling for them, the horses came running to greet.............
All of us were out at this exact same place last summer, also checking on the horses, when we had a very unexpected, wonderful and up-close-and-personal interaction with a deer:
I remembered something the other day that I had completely forgotten about until I downloaded these pictures and thought of the deer.
LC, Jamie and I had a very similar experience while we were driving across country in early June.
We had pulled off the highway somewhere in south-eastern Wyoming to try and find a gas station.
I don't even remember the name of the place but it was one of those tiny, economically stressed little desert communities that are so common in Wyoming.  They contain very few people, very few amenities, and a whole lotta nothing and sand.
We did find gas and stopped for a few minutes at a small park so that we could eat and so that Jamie could pee and walk.
While we were sitting at a picnic table underneath a shelter I suddenly noticed an adult antelope standing at the edge of the park and looking in our direction.
Fascinated that this antelope was standing only 50 feet away from us I continued to watch her, suddenly wondering why she was so close when I knew from experience just how skittish antelope can be.
She continued to stand and watch us, seemingly mesmerized by us.
Something was happening and I did not understand what it was, but now curious about this animal I slowly stood up and with Jamie very slowly began to walk closer to her.
I got within 30 feet of her and she began to cry out.  I stopped moving and simply watched her.  She wandered back and forth a few times (crying out the entire time) and then surprisingly walked across the gravel parking lot in front of us and across the road.
I assumed at that point that she would just disappear into the sand and sage bushes but she did not.
From the opposite side of the road she looked over in our direction again, and began to cry out again.  She was not looking at me.  She was watching Jamie.
What on earth was going on?
Standing there looking across the road at the antelope I remembered the interaction we had had with the deer in the Southfork.  At the time that happened I had assumed that a deer coming right up to us, allowing us to touch her, and her preoccupation with Jamie was a once in a lifetime experience.
Standing in the parking lot of a park in Podunk Wyoming I again wondered if the same thing would happen.
The antelope continued to cry and crossed back over the road.  She was again standing only 20 or 30 feet directly in front of us.
I walked a little closer.  She backed up - and continued to pace back and forth, cry out and focus her gaze on my clueless pup.
I took another step and stopped.  She did the same thing - backed up, paced, cried, watched James.
Another few times with both of us doing the same thing and I thought that it was best if I backed off.
Animal and human interactions are a wonderful thing but eventually it comes time to leave them be and not impose upon their space any more.
I turned with James and walked back to the picnic table.
By the time I sat down again the antelope was still crying and pacing and watching Jamie and I wondered if she would close the distance between us of her own accord.
She did not.
She cried and walked the length of an antelope-determined perimeter, all the while focused on my dog.
And then she turned and ran away.
LC and I just looked at each other in stunned amazement, and I have no doubt that this was the second time that a wild animal had mistaken my dog for one of her own young.
No pictures taken....................
Found in the front yard of gravel-voice-woman..............
All pictures taken of the pasture next door to the Almosta Ranch.................
Chasing a Sunset
By Natalie Cherie

The sunset was more revealing than either of them thought. As it is with most paintings which tell a story none can seem to remember.

Marie often came looking for such paintings when she could escape the never ending bore and sterility of her little French school. Marie lived in a little house, in a little town, where not even little dreams could grow. And inside that little house, in her little town she lived with her “too-big” family, with “too-big” of worries to pay attention to what her mother called, her “too-big” of dreams. So every Saturday afternoon Marie would pedal away to Paris, taking her “too-big” of dreams with her. She kept her “too-little” bike hidden in the bushes by the school’s front gate, which once white was now yellowed with age. There it sat poised and ready for the weekly adventure to the Louvre after the afternoon bell had rung, releasing her from her little school house.

After a particularly boring day at school (they had studied 5’s and 6’s in multiplication) Marie ran to the little clump of bushes and pulled out her bike, discovering a new scratch amongst all the others. The little bike once a bright periwinkle, was now chipped and faded, having been used by each of Marie’s six older sisters. Vague outlines of long-faded pink flowers were scattered amongst the chips of paint and a little bell rested by Marie’s hand, like a little lost bird, trilling its tune amongst the nest of stubby handlebars and shredded streamers.

According to Marie’s calculations, Paris and more importantly, the Louvre was a mere 6 ½ miles (or 20 minutes ride) away from her little house. So she clambered on her “too-little” bike and pedaled her “too-big” of dreams to Paris, and more importantly, the Louvre.

Today, Marie decided to explore the north-west wing and soon found herself snugly nestled amongst hundreds of scenic paintings with a thousand different colors. One painting in particular caught her eye. Walking over to the far corner she stared at the painting, the plaque underneath read, “Seaport at Sunset” Claude Lorrain, 1639. At first glance it seemed like nothing special, just men standing at the dock waiting as the ships came in, looking for refuge from the night. But the sunset was more revealing than either of them thought, for Marie found herself angry that these men simply stood, not taking advantage, or even any notice of the enticing color, light, and symbolic opportunity of the sunset. All they could do was stand and wait for their stock, or merchandise, or any other number of profits the ships bore as cargo.

“Doesn’t anyone in this world care for anything but money and facts and figures?” Marie snapped out loud. Embarrassed, she quickly glanced around in hopes that no one had heard her outburst. Finding herself alone she decided to move on, grumbling that even if it were their last sunset they still just stand there waiting for their profit. Marie found no solace in the painting, but rather irritation, the itching in her soul she couldn’t seem to scratch.

Week after week Marie came to the Louvre and every week she would find the little painting and leave a little irritated. “Why must they just stand there?” She would wonder aloud. “If I were at a seaport at sunset I would find a boat and I would chase it.” With this decided, she would pedal her “too-little” bike home wondering if she would return to find them gone away from their never ending waiting, and secretly hoping that if they could escape to the sunset then perhaps, just perhaps, she could find a way there too.

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